Fundraising Principles For The New Universe: Income Stream Diversity

Our universe has changed – dramatically.  And, the old universe ain’t coming back anytime soon.

So, I have posited a set of principles which, when implemented, will provide our institutions with opportunities for success in this new environment.  Principle number 1 is:  Income Stream Diversity.

Income stream diversity refers to expanding the sources of income that an institution receives.  Development officers must play a vital role in diversifying the institution’s income streams.

To do so means we must think differently about our work as development professionals.  In addition to increasing charitable gift totals, we have to expand our portfolio and enhance our value to our institutions.  For instance:

  • We must seek collaborations with for-profit businesses which align with their business plans and add value to our institutions and the broader community;
  • We must seek partnerships with local, state, and federal governments to address big issues and answer vexing community-related questions;
  • We must cooperate with other non-profit and educational institutions to better meet community needs and provide innovative opportunities and experiences for students or others we serve.

The Old Universe rewarded our “to donor behavior” — i.e., to identify, to cultivate, to solicit, and to steward.  We did things “to donors.”

The New Universe will reward us for engaging with partners.  Some of these partners will be donors who will help increase charitable gift income.  Some will help increase  grant revenue.  Some will help increase tuition, membership, or other client revenue.  Some will strengthen our brand which will encourage our institutions to launch new services.  All of them will help strengthen and diversify the revenue streams of the enterprise.

It doesn’t matter much if we raise more charitable gifts but the institution fails to generate all of the income it needs to fulfill its mission and achieve its inspirational vision.  The effective development professional will understand this and will take a leadership role – both inside and outside of the institution – to help ensure that the enterprise has all of its needed resources.

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